The Speak Up for Parkinson’s app is a useful tool for Parkinson’s patients to ... More
The Speak Up for Parkinson’s app is a useful tool for Parkinson’s patients to practice their speech.
Last updated 13 Jan 2014
Published 13 Jan 2014
Many of us have been touched by the plight of Parkinson's Disease sufferers and the frustrations that such a debilitating condition places on families and individuals. You just have to watch some of the last interviews that the actress Katherine Hepburn gave before her passing to see the effect it can have on a person's health and mannerisms - the most obvious of which is the speech patterns. There have been a number of apps released to help sufferers who seek some relief including Voice Recorder, Speechie, Sound Level, Lists and Sleep Machine and its good to see Speak Up For Parkinson's on the market and joining them.
The Speak Up for Parkinson’s app is a very useful tool for Parkinson’s patients to practice their speech. The developers, Northwest Parkinson Foundation, came up with this app when a group of elderly people who reside at Skyline, a retirement facility in downtown Seattle, committed their time and energy in trying to come up with a good answer to a special cause. Their objective was to develop a product, idea or a process that would improve their aging population's quality of life. They called themselves The DaVinci Group. One of the members, Hal Newsom - a longtime supporter of the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation - has Parkinson's. He has had a difficult time speaking so that people can understand him. He found a "Talking Dog" app for his iPad that he could talk to and his words would be repeated, but they were in a cartoonish voice and spoken by an animated dog. However, he realized that this feedback was helpful in assisting him learn to enunciate better. He figured that if there were an app that would realistically record his voice and actually show a video of his face and lips moving it would help a great deal. The DaVinci Group took on the challenge and partnered with a web and mobile application developer and NPF and, after several months of design, development and testing, the Speak Up for Parkinson's app became a reality. The approach pays special attention to the volume of the patient’s voice - a key factor that helps to address several of the challenges faced with Parkinson’s. There are two basic practice tools included. First up there is one called Words & Phrases - a series of random statements that are presented for the user tospeak. Secondly, there is Reading & Conversation - a free-form area allowing longer practice sessions. With both tools a volume meter is provided as well as audio/video feedback. The app also provides helpful speaking tips as well as other additional information on the subject.
NPF has long been established as an organization built on trying to make life better for Parkinson's sufferers and carers and the fact that they got involved in the development of this health and medical app for iOS speaks volumes. They even involved the noted speech therapist Roberta Kelly, of the Virginia Mason Medical Center, in the testing procedure. Ms Kelly has had extensive experience in working with Parkinson's patients for many years. The app itself is a simple one and aims to improve speaking skills with a number of recorded exercises as well as a video playback so you can watch yourself speaking the words. Sometimes it's the simple things that have the best effect.